Many collegiate student athletes have trouble balancing their sport, schoolwork and a social life. NMU sophomore Angie Leckson has double-trouble as she starts at center for the women’s basketball team and breaks school records for the track team.
This year, Leckson, a 6’1″ center, was an integral performer on the basketball team, averaging 6.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game this season. On Feb. 22, Leckson was running up and down the court in the Berry Events Center for Northern’s final basketball game of the season, a 79-64 loss to Lake Superior State. Nine days later, on March 1, Leckson set a school record in the shot-put, throwing a distance of 41-01.75 in the first track meet of her collegiate career at the GLIAC indoor meet in Findlay, Ohio.
“It was exciting (to break the record),” Leckson said. “I wasn’t supposed to start competing until after spring break, but our basketball season was over and [Tom Barnes] said I could compete at conference.”
Leckson said her multisport ability started early and came to a head in high school, where she competed in every sport her high school offered.
“I was on the volleyball team, the basketball team, the golf team and the track team at the same time,” the Garden, Michigan-native said, listing off the sports she had competed in at the high school level.
When Leckson came to NMU, she competed on the basketball team as a freshman. That year she played in all 27 games, scoring a career-high 20 points against Northwood University. Leckson took a redshirt her freshman year on the track team.
With the move to NCAA athletics, Leckson’s schedule is significantly more strenuous than it was in high school. Leckson said that in an average week, her schedule consists of daily 7 a.m. track practices, twice-a-week individual basketball workouts, weightlifting with the track team and of course, meets nearly every weekend.
Leckson, a special education major, said even with her busy athletic schedule she still finds time to keep up with her academics.
“During basketball and track season, I’m really busy,” Leckson said. “I get a lot of my homework done on the bus on my way to games.”
Leckson’s close friend and track teammate Callie Boik said that despite Leckson’s busy schedule, they still make time to socialize outside of practice.
“I see her a lot actually. We have a lot in common – she does throws, I do throws – so usually we try to come early in the mornings and hang out,” Boik said.
“She’s one of my best friends and I can’t go more than a day without seeing her, so when we are done here, we’ll go to the gym and shoot some hoops, sometimes we’ll go out for a lunch date or dinner date, we make time,” she added.
Another aspect of traditional college life that Leckson has had to give up to compete as a dual-sport athlete has been a weekend social life.
“Basically all my friends are my teammates,” Leckson said. “I’m lucky to have great teammates for both teams I’m on. Outside of that, a lot of my social life happens during phone calls and on instant messenger.”
Leckson’s coaches, basketball coach Troy Mattson and track coach Tom Barnes, both attribute Leckson’s ability to compete in two sports to her natural athletic prowess.
“She’s a great athlete. She’s got great size, great strength, great speed and agility for a girl her size,” Mattson said.
“She’s 6 foot 1 inch and has all those athletic skills, and when you put that into a shot putter or a javelin thrower those skills are the exact combination you look for.”
Barnes added that he thought Leckson’s basketball training helped her when she transitioned from playing basketball to the track season.
“Angie’s a really good athlete so it’s really easy to coach her,” Barnes said. “She picks up on things really fast so the transition is an easy one.”
Barnes also thinks that the track season gives Leckson a much-needed break from the track season.
“It’s a different sport and I think it’s a different opportunity for her. Basketball is more of a team sport, track is a little bit more individual, so we are flexible on our practice schedules so it provides her with a little bit of relief,” Barnes said. “I think that change benefits her for both basketball and track.”
Boik agreed with Barnes.
“Basketball is more of an intense sport and here we are more laid back.By midway through basketball season, she’s always saying, ‘I can’t wait until track starts so I can come hang out with you guys,'” Boik said.
“Plus, if she didn’t do track, she would just be practicing basketball with all her down time,” she added.
Despite all the hard work and stress involved with competing in two sports, Leckson said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I love track and can’t imagine not competing in it, but when it all comes down to it, basketball is my passion,” Leckson said.
“To be honest, though, I don’t know what I would do without both these sports.”